Samsung, apparently not content to challenge the iPad with the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the iPhone with its Galaxy S line of smartphones, will use January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to unveil yet another Apple competitior: the Galaxy Player, a touchscreen multimedia device meant to take the iPod Touch head-on in the consumer market.
According to the blog Samsung Hub, in a widely circulated Dec. 27 posting, the Galaxy Player will run Android 2.2 (Froyo) and include a 1GHz processor, 4-inch touch-screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, front- and rear-facing cameras, HD video playback, and access to apps via the Android Market. The 1200mAh battery will be removable.
In other words, just as the iPod Touch has been widely touted as the iPhone without a cellular contract, the Galaxy Player appears in many ways to be Samsung's Galaxy S smartphone without the 3G capability-although the presence of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 suggests other avenues for person-to-person calls. That aside, some differences in hardware are immediately apparent: the Galaxy Player will boast a 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera, apparently, in a weaker variation on the Galaxy S's 5-megapixel aperture.
The Galaxy Player is not exactly Samsung's stealth weapon in the portable-device market. Advertisements for the device have circulated online since at least late October, showing the Player run through various apps: Google Search by Voice, Google Maps, Android Marketplace, camera, camcorder, Layar augmented-reality browser and radio. Around that same time, French retailer Materiel.net offered the "Galaxy Player 50" for pre-order, although the device's specs on its Website-including a 2-megapixel camera and Android 2.1-differed somewhat from those posted Dec. 27 by Samsung Hub.
If a Samsung Galaxy Player tallied strong sales upon release, it would shake up a portable-media-device market long dominated by Apple's iPod line. Other competitors, including Microsoft's Zune HD, have earned strong reviews from critics but generally middling sales.
But Samsung has ample reason to believe its Galaxy Player will succeed where similar devices have crashed and burned: Despite mixed reviews from some publications, its 7-inch Galaxy Tab managed to sell more than 1 million units worldwide within two months of its first release, along with more than 5 million Galaxy S smartphones over the course of 2010. The Galaxy franchise, in other words, seems to have gained some traction with audiences.
IMS Research expects Android tablets like the Tab to swallow up 15 percent of the worldwide market in 2011, eating away at the Apple iPad's dominant share. Samsung may be hoping the same Android-based magic can happen in the portable-media-device market. But some tech pundits, including eWEEK's Clint Boulton, seem more ambivalent about the Galaxy Player's appeal.